A quantitative analysis of antibiotic usage in British sheep flocks

Peers Davies, John Remnant, Martin Green, Emily Gascoigne, N Gibbon, Robert Hyde, Jack Porteous, Kiera Schubert, Fiona Lovatt, Alexander Corbishley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The aim of this study was to examine the variation in antibiotic usage between 207 commercial sheep flocks using their veterinary practice prescribing records. Mean and median prescribed mass per Population Corrected Unit (mg/PCU) was 11.38 and 5.95 respectively and closely correlated with Animal Defined Daily Dose (ADDD) 1.47(mean), 0.74(median) (R2 = 0.84, p<0.001). This is low in comparison with the suggested target (an average across all UK livestock sectors) of 50mg/PCU. In total, 80% of all antibiotic usage occurred in the 39% of flocks where per animal usage was greater than 9.0 mg/PCU. Parenteral antibiotics, principally oxytetracycline, represented 82% of the total prescribed mass, 65.5% of antibiotics (mg/PCU) were prescribed for the treatment of lameness. Oral antibiotics were prescribed to 47% of flocks, 64% of predicted lamb crop/farm. Lowland flocks were prescribed significantly more antibiotics than hill flocks. Variance partitioning apportioned 79% of variation in total antibiotic usage (mg/PCU) to the farm level and 21% to the veterinary practice indicating that veterinary practices have a substantial impact on overall antimicrobial usage. Reducing antibiotic usage in the sheep sector should be possible with better understanding of the drivers of high usage in individual flocks and of veterinary prescribing practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-+
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2017


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